Pianist Craig Taborn on Reinventing Jazz Improvisation

Craig Taborn

Craig Taborn. © Bart Babinski (ECM Records)

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In the pantheon of contemporary jazz pianists — from Keith Jarrett to Herbie Hancock — Craig Taborn is not widely known.  But among fellow jazz musicians, he’s revered. Vijay Iyer calls him “one of the greatest living pianists.”

Taborn is intensely private and deliberately keeps a low profile. Maybe it has something to do with his Midwestern roots — or growing up black in Minnesota. In recent albums like “Avenging Angel” and “Daylight Ghosts,” he’s reinventing the art of jazz improvisation. And he seems to be turning music into a philosophical quest.